Ganawendandaa nibi gechitwaawendaagwak: Lets protect the sacred water.
Kevin Whalen, Executive Director of MN350 (left), Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth (Center) and Loren Blackford, Board President of the Sierra Club (right) link arms during Wednesday's demonstration.
I am a Water Protector. Indaw Anishinaabekwe. Today, I stand with my sisters and brothers to protect our Mother Earth, and to protect the rights of future generations. The Enbridge Line 3 project represents a huge violation of the rights of Mother Earth and future generations. There is no reason that any permits for construction of this 900,000 barrel per day pipeline should be issued, yet I stand here, asking for the regulatory and legal system to work in Minnesota. I stand here to say, that I do not want to be shot for a Canadian pipeline company, as I stand to protect my water, my wild rice, relatives and my future generations.
Youth jingle dress dance as a part of the march through the streets of Bemidji
This summer we have seen unprecedented heat-waves, fires, and floods. It is clear to leading climate scientists that we are facing the climate chaos that we have been warned about for decades (and even a century). Fires burn to the west, the polar ice caps melt, and the sky is hazy for many days. Whales carry their dead children, the seas are full of dying fish, and climate change refugees from droughts and storms plead for help. Regionally, we have seen mining, agribusiness and pipeline corporations threaten our clean water in Northern Minnesota and the Great Lakes. This region- Omaa Akiing, the land to which the people belong - is home to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water and it is under huge threat. We say no, and we stand for the Water.
Dawn Goodwin (Left) leads the march to downtown Bemidji, MN on Wednesday.
For four years, we have worked to make the system work, but in an unprecedented move, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission issued a 5-0 approval of the Enbridge Certificate of Need on June 28th. This ran counter to recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Administrative Hearings, Pollution Control Agency, and Department of Natural Resources. Honor the Earth, Friends of the Headwaters, Fond du Lac, White Earth, Red Lake, and Mille Lacs Bands have all filed appeals on the state’s Environmental Impact Statement¹, and Honor the Earth plans to appeal the Certificate of Need decision.²
Line 3 moves the carbon equivalent of 50 more coal-fired power plants and would make Enbridge the largest energy consumer in Minnesota with a total load capacity the equivalent to the Prairie Island Nuclear Plant. We say No.
Enbridge hopes to begin construction this fall or spring and bring the pipeline into service by the end of 2019. Honor the Earth will do everything we can to stop the militarization of northern Minnesota. We are welcoming Water Protectors and we are also fighting this in the legal and regulatory system. As Water Protectors, many of us were at Standing Rock, injured, arrested and subjected to human rights violations.⁵
Nancy Beaulieu speaks on missing and murdered indigenous people and introduces Theresa Jourdain
We recall that North Dakota law enforcement and emergency management agencies spent $43 million during the historic siege at Standing Rock in 2016-2017. They were reimbursed $15 million from pipeline owner Energy Transfer Partners and $10 million from the federal government, and are now suing the feds for the remainder. Through EMAC agreements, they brought in additional cops from 7 different states, which required the Governor to declare a State of Emergency because the EMAC is intended only for natural disaster relief. The EMAC is how Minnesota’s very own Hennepin County sent 30 Special Operations forces to Standing Rock, where they proved to be some of the most brutal.
Water protectors link arms in anticipation of police intervention.
On June 28, 2018, when the PUC approved the permits for Line 3, they added a condition requiring Enbridge to cover all the costs of responding to protests during construction. Enbridge happily agreed. This means that once the permit is finalized and issued (perhaps next month), Minnesota law enforcement will have a bottomless tab open with a Canadian multinational corporation to cover any costs related to quelling resistance to the pipeline.
Theresa Jourdain is taken by police to be issued a citation in downtown Bemidji, MN.
In fact, even though the pipeline route is outside their jurisdiction, it appears that Beltrami County has been taking the lead on law enforcement preparations for Line 3 for some time. Information received through Data Practices Act requests from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension indicates that the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department is the agency coordinating efforts by Enbridge and at least 8 law enforcement agencies, from all levels of jurisdiction, to share information about water protectors.
Winona LaDuke is taken by police to be issued a citation in downtown Bemidji, MN.
As Native people, and as citizens of Minnesota, we are deeply concerned about the militarizing of our state, and our rights to clean water.
I am here to say, Bimaadiziwin Nibi. Water is Life. I am here to say that our state should not be militarized and our people arrested and injured for a Canadian Pipeline Company. I am here because it is necessary to be here, to protect our Future Generations. I am a Water Protector.
Dawn Goodwin carries water as she leads the march to downtown Bemidji, MN.
Photos courtesy of Jaida Grey Eagle and Hannah Smith